Woman Rose, Deborah Bird

United States of America

Written by Ann Standish, The University of Melbourne

Deborah Bird Rose, who was born in the United States and educated at the University of Delaware and Bryn Mawr, is a leader in multidisciplinary ethnographic research.

Her research since the 1980s has focused on entwined social and ecological justice, based on long-term fieldwork with Aboriginal people in Australia. Her approach has drawn on elements of anthropology, history, philosophy, cultural studies, religious studies, and animal studies and has led to innovative understandings of ethnographic and ecological knowledge, most recently in the new area of multispecies ethnography. Rose's doctoral work was inspired by questions about how a group of Aboriginal people in outback Australia 'posed and answered fundamental questions such as why are we born, why do we live, why do we die?' Her thesis dealing with these questions became the influential book, Dingo Makes Us Human: Life and Land in an Australian Aboriginal Culture (1992), which won the Stanner Prize for a work on Aboriginal issues. It is now in its third edition (2011). At about the time Dingo Makes Us Human was released, her book Hidden Histories (1991) won the 1991 Jessie Litchfield Award for Literature.

Her other major books include Country of the Heart (2011, second edition), Wild Dog Dreaming: Love and Extinction (University of Virginia Press, 2011) and Reports from a Wild Country: Ethics for Decolonisation (UNSW Press, 2004), short listed for the NSW Premier's Awards. She has published over one hundred peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters, and also writes literary essays. Currently she is working on a book on relations between humans and animals, which brings Aboriginal philosophy into conversation with western philosophy and contributes to ongoing scholarship in the field of interspecies relations.

Rose has worked a consultant anthropologist for various bodies, including the Aboriginal Land Commissioner, Northern Land Council, Central Land Council, NSW Parks and Wildlife Service and the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority. From 1994 to 2008 she was a research scholar at the ANU, first at the North Australian Research Unit and then in the Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies. From 2000 to 2008, she was a senior research fellow at the Centre for Resource and Environment. In 2008 she took up the position of Professor in the Centre for Research on Social Inclusion at Macquarie University. In 2013 she left Macquarie to join the Environmental Humanities Program at UNSW. She is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia, member of the American Anthropological Association and the Australian Anthropological Society, and a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies. With Thom van Dooren she edits the new online journal Environmental Humanities. Prior to starting Environmental Humanities, she initiated and edited the 'Ecological Humanities' section of the Australian Humanities Review, first with Libby Robin and later with Thom van Dooren. She serves on numerous editorial boards, and is a contributor to a wide range of journals. She is a founding member of the Kangaloon Group for Creative Ecologies. She has been awarded numerous ARC Discovery grants, along with grants from other agencies including the National Science Foundation (USA), the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, the Academy of Social Science in Australia, and the Biodiversity Unit, Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories.

Published Resources


  • Rose, Deborah bird, Dingo Makes Us Human: Life and Land in an Australian Aboriginal Culture, Cambridge University Press, Melbourne, Victoria, 1992. Details

Resource Sections

Online Resources

See also